Day #110: Cupcakes and Handshakes Change the World

Today I ran alone… it was weird… like running without my left foot… and although it was only 3.75 miles it seemed to take forever without my Love beside me…

He was there at the gym but his foot tendon was sore and he forgot his running shoes so he didn’t want to chance it…

I watched him shake hands with my uncle who also happened to be there. I imagined their conversation… him explaining why he wasn’t running… my uncle sharing a similar experience… and it made me think how we work so hard to be connected…

I had a mother in my office today practically begging me to hear her story. I met with a teenage boy who shuts down every time his story gets told on him.

We witness it all the time… in person… on Facebook… people desperate to connect to someone, anyone. And while that leads to a lot of dysfunction, the overall purpose is important. To really thrive, we need community, connections, nurture, love…

How many times in the rush of the day, in the haste of our agenda do we miss the most basic of our human connections… a steadying hand for an elder, a sincere compliment to a cashier, or surprising our spouse with their favorite “treat.” For my Love, it is a cupcake so– we neutralized the Monday blues with salted caramel heaven.

It makes me wonder, gentle reader, how many small kind things I could do if I just weren’t so into myself all the time? Maybe enough to change the world?

Or my world at the very least…

A vanilla cupcake with white frosting piled high, drizzled in caramel and rock sugar.

Day #85: Childhood-Wild and Free

I was sitting on this bench waiting for Adalie to come out of her school. First, I heard a mother scolding her child for honking her horn. Then I hear a daycare teacher hushing a group while she was waiting on the rest of the children. Finally, a little boy runs up to my bench, climbs up it, jumps off, and rolls down the hill in the grass. His mother, close behind, immediately starts in on him. Now he’s dirty, now he’ll get her car dirty, now she’ll have to wash his jacket.

And it all made me realize how hard we work to contain children. The wild, raw energy that’s so curious and uninhibited. Such beauty in their excited voices, their wild eyes, their never ending flow of body, and their wide, wide smiles.

I watched her later that evening, dancing around the living room in her sequins and wild colors. Her body vibrant with movement, her checks flushed, and her voice strong.

And I thought about what all we do to quiet that voice in a child. In the hallways and the lunchrooms, in the night hours and church services. We “shh” their comments and frown at their inquiries. I send her nonverbal cues that her continuous talking annoys me.

I didn’t want to run today. I’m still just so tired. But I got out there and I chose to do it, it wasn’t even too bad. But I thought as I ran about how life can feel like this run, obligated, serious, and necessary, but not fun. I vowed to enjoy my ball of fun as much as I could tonight with her loud ways, her literal comments, and her ever-changing moods. I vowed to enjoy her sparkles and laughter, her stories and energy. I vowed to love her tonight with as little control as necessary. Because we are given the freedom to be and express ourselves–why shouldn’t a child?

Young blonde girl with flushed cheeks asleep on a colorful blanket.

Day #76: Time, Changes, and New Perceptions

We ran our 3.75 miles today outside because the weather was in our favor. The sun was out and the wind felt good the more sweat-soaked I became. As I ran, I thought about how when we first started running, our goal was a 5K… 3.10 miles… and it felt like SO much. Now we are cranking out 3 miles all the time but they seem so small compared to the 13.1 half-marathon we plan to run in May. It’s funny how time changes perspective…

I thought of this again as I sat cuddling my girl before bed. Tomorrow she will go to her dad’s house because I have class and then we are taking a weekend trip to go skiing. Five days without her voice, her humor, her literal brain, and her beautiful smile. It makes me sad now, but by six years old, we understand we can live without each other for a week. When she was a baby, it would have devastated us both… it’s such a trick that time plays with us…

But still, I sat there soaking in the cuddles and thinking about what six more years might do to our perceptions of who we are as individuals and as mother/daughter. Who knows really? But for today with tears threatening to spill at the thought of who we have been and who we will be, I squeeze every ounce of joy out of who we are today.

Mand women smiling wide, soaked in sweat and flush from running.

Day #60

“Wait for me!” I yelled to my small child’s back.

We were walking home from Mimi’s house and she had decided to run. I wanted to run but had a bag, a purse, and pants that wouldn’t stay up.

So I walked, hoping she wouldn’t get hit by a car.

And I thought, this is very symbolic of how I feel about my life lately … bogged down with stuff, ill-equipped for the moment, and half a mile behind — always.

But you know what I figured out today, dear readers?

You get there anyway. In your own time, with strong legs, and no need to struggle to breathe … you get there — and everything is just fine when you do.

Day #59

We went to Lee Creek Reservoir with our two sweet dogs, amazing daughter, and beautiful friends. It was unseasonably warm in the low 60s and sunny.

It is like the sun nourishes is my soul. I love the warmth of it on my shoulders, my neck, my face. It is joy materialized.

I watched the girls run ahead, giggling, telling secrets, and breathless. And I loved that moment.adalie-and-taytum-talking-in-the-woods

We stopped to sit for a bit on the top of the rock for a snack and some pictures. I observed families, attachments, and so many, many years of bonding in our circle. And I sat in awe of the work we had all done to be together as family. The odds we’ve overcome, physically and emotionally, to just be present together in that place. And I loved that moment too.

Man with a dog touching a large old tree named the devil tree becuase of its sinister appearance. And I watched my nature-loving husband caress an old tree with reverence. And I could feel him in my core. His thoughts, his feelings, his heart beat with mine as we stood connected by something so much bigger than us. And it reminded me that no matter what … I am him and he is me because we are one. And, you guessed it, I loved that moment most.

Days to wander and observe and be are so rare for me. I try to soak them all in like the sun on my skin. They nourish my soul.

Today I am glowing with soul health

Day #57

Today I biked while cross training and walked the gym track a few times. It felt good to do something different, work different muscles, try a different routine. I felt energized and content afterwards …

Adalie doesn’t have school tomorrow so we did something different. We snuggled up in our king-size bed and watched a movie together. The three of us … snug as a bug in a rug.

Adalie loved it, as she flipped flopped back and forth between the two of us, educating us about the movie, because she had seen it before. She finally settled in and eventually fell asleep.

It was a special moment. So much love and peace in a new experience.

It made me laugh to myself how often we avoid changing our routines, our routes, our traditions. We hold on to things desperately because we don’t know if we would like it differently. And what really makes me laugh out loud is that we hold to ways, to people, to jobs, to ideas that we don’t even like because what if we change it and like it even less?!
But what if we change and it’s marvelous?

What about that?

Day #21

It’s an odd feeling to observe your child on “the outside.” I know exactly how she will react to things almost every single time at home. The dynamics are set, the routine is steady, and the rules stay the same. But last night and today I was merely present with her at two different parties and the behavior was fascinating. To see her interact with other children, try new things, and observe and adapt her own behavior based on those around her, made me realize a few¬†things:

  • I way underestimate her and I have much to be proud of in her. She went out of her way to be kind and make others (especially younger or shy) feel comfortable.
  • She went out in a crowd of perfect strangers and skated her heart out while singing despite her uncertainty on skates.
  • She continually put herself out there at a birthday party where she didn’t know anyone but the birthday girl… introducing herself, giggling, and talking with everyone at the table.

Blonde child skating with assistance in a purple and red rink.It also made me realize the importance of adaptability and resiliency. And I may not get it all right on this parenting venture; however, this weekend watching my girl, I know I’m not getting it all wrong either. This leads to a deep sigh of relief and about 7 seconds of not worrying about her.

In the spirit of change, we drove instead of walked tonight. We packed the dogs in the crew cab, stuck Adalie in the front between us, and with hot chocolate and Christmas-light-scavenger-hunt-list in hand, went for a long drive. We oohed and wowed at lights and music and decorations. Until two tired puppies and one sweet girl whined to go home.

He came around to my door to help me with a sleeping Adalie.

“This has been the happiest year of my life,” he whispered, taking her to her bed.

I teared up… Adaptability and resiliency win again.young-girl-sleeping

Day #9

“Too much burden will halt your progress. Loosen up so that you can be swift.” –

Alissa Reddy, The Art of Mindfulness for Children

I watched her eyes well up with tears because Mistletoe did not come back this year… he sent a girl elf on the shelf instead. She had been begging for a “girl elf” for two Christmases.

The pain of letting go…

I watched her panic searching for her phone, her clipboard, her anything to take to her after school program as we are walking out the door for school. I encouraged her to breathe, to be creative, to think outside the box about what she could do this afternoon, instead.

The pain of letting go…

I watched her fall to pieces over the realization that her lunchbox sat happily at home on the couch. Even as I assured her I would go back and get it. Even as she nodded in agreement that it wasn’t a big deal.

She cried. Nothing about this morning had gone according to plan.

The pain of letting go…

It was wet and cold so I needed a new walking plan. Instead of my usual scenic route, I headed to the mall to do a lap. It was noisy and distracting and not at all my norm but I rolled with it. And as I did, I thought about my girl-baby and hoped her day was going better. I thought about her rigidness and anxiety that often flairs into panic and irritability. I have been reading a book about mindfulness for children and one of the goals taught is the art of “letting go” as defined by the author Alissa Reddy:

“Letting go entails leaving situations as they are and allowing events to unfold as they are supposed to.”

My beautiful strong princess is not good at this, but I wondered as I walked if I was so much better. Expectations often give way to disappointment, schedule often becomes law, and roles often box people in until they have no room to be themselves. I watch myself take life so seriously-over and over. There are chores to be done, mouths to be fed, money to be earned. I spin plates and plates until it is comical that I think it is achievable. Then, always, one little thing breaks or bobs or goes off kilter, and it all comes crashing down around me.

The pain of letting go…a child sleeping with a stuffed owl

Day #8

two people walking down a streetIt was 80 degrees today. They said we broke a record. The last day of November, the first day of Christmas decorations and it feels like Spring. It was so off…

She came home at 3pm. Five days later and she finally came home. She hid behind her dad’s legs. She refused to look at me. She came in her own home begrudgingly.

I knew it would happen; it happens every time, especially when it’s not her usual weekend only visit. I try to prepare myself before she gets here; protect myself emotionally. But it just feels wrong…

We walk, me and my family, to my mom’s around the corner. She talks and skips and dances. My Love and I hold hands. And although the edge is still on her voice and the uncertainty stays etched in her face, I feel the world righting itself again. My baby is home and a cold front is coming…